"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Should we say...? | Main | GOD MOVES IN A MYSTERIOUS WAY By William Cowper »

    Man's Responsibility, Inability & God's Enabling Grace by Pastor John Samson

    As some of you know, I wrestled for quite some time with the doctrine of God's Sovereignty in election (a sure evidence of my total depravity). All Bible believing Christians have some doctrine of election. Of course, its a biblical word, found many times in the Bible. The question is not "should we have a doctrine of election?", but "what is the biblical doctrine of election?" Its a question we all have to answer.

    In sorting through the issues in my mind, and wrestling with my own traditions on the subject, I first had to see what the traditions were, and what Scripture actually said. To do this can be an emotionally painful process. It is not an easy thing to allow for your thinking to be held up to the light of Scripture. Why? Because to do so may confirm your tradition as valid (biblically), but on the other hand, it may prove the exact opposite - it may show it to be unbiblical and therefore opposed to God.

    As I minister, even more is at stake. The emotional stakes are raised to a whole new level when you might have to admit that some of the things you have taught over the years may have been error. That is not a comforting thought at all, and might explain why some ministers are not willing to look into these issues. However, it is far better to deal with the unscriptural traditions now rather than to go on for another 20 years or so believing and teaching falsehood, making matters a whole lot worse.

    As I say, this process was not an easy or a short one for me. It took more than a year of indepth study. However, I began to find clarity when I sought to find out only what Scripture taught. I did this by asking myself this question, "what can you say that Scripture teaches on this subject with such clarity that you cannot deny it." Over time, I came to see three propositions which I found to be undeniable:

    1. God holds man entirely responsible for the choices he makes
    2. Man is unable to make the right choice (Christ and salvation) while in a spiritually dead condition
    3. God, by an act of sheer grace, has to directly intervene to raise a person from spiritual death, giving him a new heart (regeneration), before he will ever come to Christ

    I've put together a brief chart that displays these things visually here. I trust it will be helpful for those who are seeking clarity on these vital issues.

    Posted by John Samson on April 24, 2006 12:02 PM


    Thanks for posting this John. The chart is very helpful. How humbling this all this!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    Thanks for the chart, this helps provide a good reference for my own thoughts. Earlier this year I kind of arrived at similar conclusions, realizing that you couldn't really hold to total depravity without also acknowledging the need for God to intervene on our behalf. And then, low and behold, all of the doctrines of grace ended up being tied into that first statement about the falleness of man. Romans started to make alot more sense and even now, as I walk through Matthew I find statements like Christ's in 11:27; "no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him."


    Many thanks for this chart. I read a sermon by Spurgeon yesterday on Divine Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility. It blew me away, just as this chart does. Truly makes one completely grateful for GRACE. No room for boasting at all!! Also, it brings the teaching in Romans 9 into clearer view! Amazing stuff!
    God bless!

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